Would you employ a garden designer? Charente or Brittany

Hi there.

I'm looking to buy in either the Charente, or Brittany, this year; and am wondering whether there would be demand for a garden design service in either of these areas?

Having worked as an interior decorator for around 15 years in the UK, and considered garden design for many years, I'm now studying; and hope to offer "inside out" decorating and garden design services once I establish myself in France.

I'd like to put myself somewhere where this could prove popular; can anyone give me some feedback or clues?

Thanks for any comments!

Thankyou Jo Anne! I am concerned not to put cold water on aspirations here, as I'm sure we all arrive with them, in whatever guise, and then a fair few of us fall foul of various things before we either succeed, or give up in the trying :-(

And OH and I are starting to wonder if we are the only ones, for a while now, starting to feel a little anti- etranger feeling creeping in, within the french population we've sucessfully and happily mixed in previously? Far from looking for it, we go out of our way to remain pleasant, polite, helpfull, speak the lingo, etc, etc, but especially since the Yes/No referendum for EU there is now a definite chill on occasions where there wouldn't have been before. Our near neighbour alluded to it last week and said he'd happily see the back of the ex-pats, before swiftly adding 'not you, of course, and you're Welsh', him being from Brittany originally!

David Evans couldn't have said it any better

Hello Nicola. There is a lot to learn before setting up a business in France and one aspect is qualifications which must be verified. I suggest you join this Facebook group to assist you and introduce you to operating a business here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/LadiesInBusinessInFrance/?ref=br_tf

And of course, SFN is a wonderful forum for advice and help to understand living and working in France. We live in the Charente and I think there would be more of an opportunity for your services here than in Brittany. But as someone said, expats are on a tight budget but you may find projects with larger French owned properties. Bonne chance!

I have a friend in the Charente near Confolens. He is a landscape gardener and employs 5 or 6 people. He has been on at me to do some landscape design, but a) I don't have the time and b) the inclination. He is asking me this because from what he sees, there is a demand for this service. Look him up: Frederic Chabroux in St Germain de Confolens

I would consider hirîg in a contractor to do some heavy work of something like terracing, but garden design, unlikely as I know my plot and what I like so the design is already half done…I guess it will depend on what you are offering butmany folks here are time rich and cash poor so you may have a limited market. A very good payagiste near us has just shut up due to lack of business

I once hired a landscape designer who had a landscape architecture student on the side. Fabulous result (but not in France). If I was in the happy situation of having my own home in France I would hire a landscape architect rather than just a designer because I like each room in the house to have a vista of the garden-requires use of perspective etc. I'm a keen gardener who has always designed her own gardens. I would want someone who could take the project from design to completion not just design it -ie project manage it. I designed a potager recently (given the constraints that it is not my property so I wasn't allowed to do exactly what I liked).

As David has said - the climate is a huge factor. I get immensely frustrated by the cold of Centre and Ile de France. Most things I want to plant are not feasible due to the freeze. I'm used to a gentler NZ climate to this continental one. Even planting a tomato is fraught. I have to wait at least a month longer than I think just to plant them with minimal damage from cold evenings. Difficult to accept the realities and the issue of water should always be a concern. Good luck with what you decide but you may be pushing shit uphill trying to get a design service to work without you being stressed to the max and out of your depth. Gone are the days when all it took was to be an enthusiastic (and maybe talented) amateur. And you are considering doing it in France.

Hi Nicola,

We lived in the Charente for 4 years, and now have returned just into the south Vienne, and to be honest, most of the large circle we have moved in probably wouldn't have a garden designer for their plots...Money is tight for ex-pats here already, landscaping materials can be very costly, as are plants, and it can be a real challenge to have a 'garden' here concerning watering, heat, etc. (we always ensure we buy a property with own water source, eg). Also there is so much web advise for designs that would 'fit' your plot already out there, unless you also mean you'd be 'hands on' getting stuck into the actual works, too? Just sourcing reasonably priced good top-soil can be a real pain here, as we've found. We've created 3 gardens since arrival, about to do a fourth, and part of the fun/challenge has been to source plants as and when cheaply that will do well, to create our own designs after living a full 4 seasons (getting to know soil, heat, wind, drainage, access, etc,), to know which builders merchant provides the best products at the most competative rates, and to split and propogate those said plants. We haven't yet found a need for an actual designer to advise, and without in any way at all wishing to be rude, if we were to consider at any point that route, we would be using an established designer here that has lived in the region a good while and knows its many vagaries.

Sorry if I seem to be pouring cold water on plans, but, believe me, we've seen many a dream go out the window along with all monies for ex-pats for many an idea/scheme. I'd urge you to really do in-depth research, look into competition (of which there is) and then live in your chosen region a year or two at least, before committing any savings to what may turn into a nightmare scenario.

And, of course, it's generally understood France is also a nightmare to run a successful business in in most cases....but that's another story/hurdle! I wish you all the best.